Car-sharing can complement mass transit, reduces the number of vehicles in cities and helps to improve air quality. We agree this car-sharing benefits are nothing we have not already heard or read a hundred times. However, recently hard data have been published in a one-way car-sharing study conducted by the University of California Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC). Allegedly, it is the first-ever multi-city study focusing on one-way car-sharing in North America.
The findings are based on gathered data from up to 9,500 Car2go members living in the US cities of Seattle, Vancouver, Calgary, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. The study focuses on one-way car-sharing. It is offered since 2010 in North America in Austin, Texas, by Car2go. Other sharing models, for instance, round-trip car-sharing are not taken into account.
Estimated sum of suppressed and sold cars due to the presence of Car2go operating in 2015
The highest percentage of active users in high-density cities like Vancouver and Washington, D.C.
“Vehicle ownership in cities can be expensive and inconvenient, with private vehicles sitting unused approximately 95 percent of the time,” said Susan Shaheen, co-director for UC Berkeley’s TSRC. “Our three-year research effort into one-way carsharing in North America revealed that car2go is having a beneficial impact on mileage driven, greenhouse gas emissions, and the total number of vehicles in the cities we studied. Participation from car2go and its members – the largest free-floating, one-way carsharing service in North America – gave us unprecedented access to activity data and member insights into this innovative mobility service in densely-populated cities.”
The stated findings sound enticing. In the following, a few extracts from the study. About 74 percent of the Car2go members sold an at least 10 years old vehicle – the average age is 14.4 years. Thus, cities get rid of vehicles with outdated emission systems. Depending on the city, each Car2go vehicle avoids the need for 4 to 9 privately owned vehicles. Approximately between 10 to 29 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per year and city have been prevented through Car2go. Accordingly, each car2go vehicle removed between 5.5 to 27.7 metric tons of GHG annually. The GHG emissions have been reduced between 4 to 18 percent depending on the city (average 10 percent).
A 25% year-over-year membership growth rate in North America is expected by car2go because more and more people migrate from the country to the cities and use car-sharing services
The highest percentage of active users are high-density cities like Vancouver and Washington, D.C. Accordingly, cities with a lower population density exhibit a lower percentage of active users relative to their respective membership base. The city with the lowest aggregate vehicle impacts is San Diego.
In order to combine the research forces of six campus groups at UC Berkeley, the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) was formed in 2006. Car2go N.A., LLC, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler North America Corporation. Unambiguous information about the sponsor of the study are not at hand.